Collectively constructing identity-strategy rhetoric: a dynamic interplay of heroes and villains

Marina Bos-de Vos, Kristina Lauche, Leentje Volker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Strategy and identity can work together and enable organizations to reconcile short-term and long-term objectives, but their interplay may easily lead to vicious circles that prevent innovation or jeopardize an organization’s distinctiveness. On the one hand, identity may impede change if the strategic alternatives it allows for do not align with the new problems the organization faces. On the other hand, continuously reconstructing identity along with strategic decisions that are made can result in the organization losing its distinctive, central selling point and potentially even the commitment of the organizational members who identify with it. Previous research has shown how a sustained interplay in which strategy is – over a longer period of time – meaningfully framed by identity and serves to enact identity, may help organizations escape these vicious circles in the long run. Yet, how the day-to-day interactions of groups of organizational members influence the construction and management of a sustained identity-strategy interplay is still underexplored. Consequently, we know little about how organizational members can collectively nourish or compromise a well-balanced relationship between identity and strategy in their organization through their daily interactions.
We opted for a process research design that allowed us to observe and compare interactions of multiple groups of organizational members in concentrated modes of strategy-making, thereby viewing process as an ‘activity’. Adopting a rhetoric-based perspective of identity work and strategy work as continuously inter-weaving dynamics, we study the emotionally-laden, rhetorical accounts of 17 groups of architects during project-oriented strategy workshops to see how they collectively give form to identity-strategy interplays when discussing their daily work. Studying group interactions around identity and strategy in contexts where members pursue multiple, possibly competing goals and uphold multiple, possibly competing identities, such as in architectural firms, is particularly relevant, as such complex, dynamic organizational settings are becoming more and more prevalent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPROS 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event11th International Process Symposium Organising in the Digital Age : Understanding the Dynamics of Work, Innovation, and Collective Action - Minoa Place, Chania, Greece
Duration: 18 Jun 201922 Jun 2019
Conference number: 11th


Conference11th International Process Symposium Organising in the Digital Age
Internet address


  • identity work
  • strategy work
  • professional identity
  • architectural firms
  • workshop


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